Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
During the United Nations General Assembly plenary meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, the UAE has reiterated its longstanding commitment to the government.
Speaking on behalf of the UAE, Saud AlShamsi, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, expressed concern for the continuous attacks in the country, noting that it claimed over 8,200 lives in 2019 alone.
He recalled the January 2017 attack in Kandahar which claimed the life of Juma Al Kaabi, the late UAE Ambassador to Afghanistan, as well as the lives of five other Emirati humanitarian relief officials who were on a humanitarian mission in the region.
He underlined that the UAE remained fully committed to supporting efforts aimed at achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan, including through its participation in NATO’s efforts and by convening Afghan talks in Abu Dhabi in December 2018.
The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) says the foundation’s findings indicate that the Presidential election process faces serious technical and managerial challenges which its transparency can be detrimental.
TEFA in a press release on Thursday said that the extrajudicial decision by the Independent Election Commission (IEC), the suspension of technical work of the commission, closure of the provincial offices of the commission in a number of provinces are alarming.
TEFA expressed concern over the political pressures on IEC, saying these pressures have been the reason of lack of a proper and legal decision-making.
“Demonstration is not the solution for the election. TEFA urges the protesting electoral tickets to refrain from staging demonstrations in the current difficult situation. The Election Complaints Commission also plays its role impartially and professionally at this point in time,” the press release said.
The press release added that TEFA called on IEC not to announce the preliminary election results without completing the votes’ counting and completion of technical works.
At least 17 Taliban were killed during a 10-day clearing operation in Marjah district of Helmand province, local military officials said.
“Most parts of the district have been cleared of insurgents,” said Gen. Hokum Khan, a military commander of 205th Atal military corps, who said “the district was surrounded by Taliban insurgents over the past four years, and equipment had to be brought in to the security forces by air.”
“Now the security forces have broken the Taliban’s encirclement and the operation will continue in the district to clear all insurgents,” he said.
Local officials confirmed that the district has been surrounded by the Taliban over the past four years and “all the highways were blocked to military convoys,” The Afghan forces have also been supported by Afghan air forces, officials added.
The UN General Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution on Afghanistan to pledge its continued support to the government and people of the country.
The resolution encourages all partners to constructively support the reform agenda of the Afghan government so as to secure a prosperous and democratic Afghanistan, focusing on the strengthening of democracy and governance.
It supports the continuing and growing ownership of reconstruction and development efforts by the Afghan government, and emphasizes the crucial need to achieve ownership and accountability in all fields of governance and to improve institutional capabilities in order to use aid more effectively.
It emphasizes that threats to stability and development in Afghanistan and the region require closer and more coordinated cooperation as well as greater coherence and complementarity of approach between countries of the region and the international community.
The resolution reiterates serious concern about the security situation in Afghanistan and stresses the need to continue to address the threat posed by the region-based violent extremist and other illegal armed groups and criminals, as well as the presence of foreign terrorist fighters and terrorist organizations.
The resolution recognizes that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive peace process is essential for achieving long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.
It welcomes the efforts of the Afghan government to begin direct negotiations within the framework of a comprehensive peace plan and calls on the Taliban to accept this offer without any preconditions and without the threat of violence.
At least 19 Afghan security forces have been killed and wounded in Taliban’s attack in Darqad district of Takhar province, local officials said.
A member of Takhar provincial council, Muhammad Azam Afzali told Reporterly that Taliban insurgents stormed security outposts in Darqad district on Wednesday night.
According to Afzali, seven security forces were killed and 12 others were wounded during the clashes and also three of their vehicles were burned.
He added that no security outpost was collapsed and the Taliban insurgents fled the area.
In the meantime, the 217 Pamir Corps in a press release said that the Taliban group launched their attacks from several fronts in Qara Tapa area which faced security forces’ resistance.
The press release said that at least eleven insurgents including two top commanders of Taliban identified as Qari Qadir and Qahraman and three members of the group’s Red Unit were killed and six others were wounded.
The press release confirmed that one security forces was killed and six others were wounded in the clashes.
The first Afghanistan-Wide Peace Poetry and Painting Festival will be held in Kabul on Thursday.
The aim of this festival which will be kicked off today in Kabul University on the initiative of a number of youth is for the support of the country’s 19-year achievements and peace.
Holding of the festival comes as the efforts to resume peace talks in Afghanistan have recently been intensified.
The US assistant secretary for south and central Asian affairs, Alice Wells says the United States is committed to defeating the IS-K group in Afghanistan, along with its partners in the country.
Alice Wells has emphasized on the real progress in terms of the number of members of the terror outfit surrendering to the Afghan security forces.
“Reporting from Afghanistan shows that the continued offensive on ISIS-K has resulted in an increasing number of fighters and their families surrendering to the Afghan forces. Progress is real, but we remain vigilant,” she said.
Wells also added, “Together with our Afghan partners, the US is committed to the enduring defeat of ISIS-K in Afghanistan. We have seen noteworthy progress on the battlefield in the last several weeks, especially in challenging areas like Nangarhar.”
Leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member-states will consider at a meeting in Bishkek on Thursday steps to enhance security on the borders with Afghanistan from where terrorists can infiltrate Central Asia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told an audience of students and lecturers at the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy.
“We are interested in that [the situation in Afghanistan] not for some abstract reasons. To begin with, it is a threat, if terrorists are amassed in northern Afghanistan, and there are several thousands of them there. They are not trying to hide that they seek to gain a foothold there to advance further, for expansion to Central Asia. Of course, we want our allies to feel safe and would like Russia itself to feel safe.”
According to Lavrov, if terrorists infiltrate Central Asia, that will be bad both for the countries of the region and for Russia.
“That’s why all our organizations that oversee security issues, first and foremost the CSTO, are so necessary and so important. [The participants in] tomorrow’s meeting will consider, among other issues, further steps to enhance security on our common borders with Afghanistan,” he added.
A senior US President Donald Trump administration official who once called for a “tactical” nuclear strike on Afghanistan now helps to oversee arms control at the State Department, where he will manage Washington’s weapons treaties.
Frank Wuco, formerly of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was recently made a senior adviser at the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control – which is tasked to address the “threat posed by weapons of mass destruction” – according to a report in the Washington Post.
Wuco’s idea of “arms control” may not be quite what the bureau has in mind, however, apparently preferring to “control” arms straight to their target. In a 2016 radio appearance, when asked why Washington hadn’t simply turned Syria and Iran into “glass,” Wuco casually suggested how he would send a “message” to America’s adversaries given the chance.
“I think if we were going to have done that, my preference would have been to have dropped a couple of low-yield tactical nuclear weapons over Afghanistan the day after 9/11 to send a definite message to the world that they had screwed up in a big way.”
President Donald Trump himself has previously mused about “using nuclear” in Afghanistan, but later dismissed the idea, arguing that he would prefer not to “kill 10 million people.”
The chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley said Wednesday that the chances of a successful outcome from peace talks on ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan were higher than before and could happen in the “near term.”
“With a bit of luck, we’ll have successful negotiations in the near term, not too distant future,” Milley added as he arrived in Afghanistan on Wednesday on his first trip to the country since taking the top job in September.
Over the past 18 years, senior American military leaders and diplomats have routinely talked about their optimism and how the war has turned a corner, but the Taliban continue to control large parts of the country.
Talks between the Taliban and the United States aimed at ending the war collapsed in September after President Donald Trump called off what he described as a planned meeting at the U.S. Camp David presidential retreat.
Fifteen civilians, including six women and eight children, were killed and two others wounded after a roadside bomb explosion struck a vehicle in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province on Wednesday, a provincial government spokesman said.
The spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, Nasrat Rahimi said that the vehicle was on a road in Imamuddin square of Imam Sahib district from neighboring Khan Abad district before touching off an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on Wednesday evening.
The bodies and the two wounded were shifted to a district hospital and the next of kin of the victims were notified, Rahimi said.
More than 2,560 civilians were killed and over 5,670 others injured in conflict-related incidents in Afghanistan in the first nine months of this year, according to figures released by the United Nations mission in the country.